Alton Brown and friends answer your Turkey Day questions

Nov 17, 2011 at 11:14 a.m. ET

The Food Network is putting its stars on the spot this Sunday with a live show that lets viewers ask questions about Thanksgiving cooking dilemmas.

Alex Guarnaschelli

In what order should you prepare side dishes? Are dried or fresh herbs best for flavoring the turkey? How can you use cranberry sauce leftovers? How far ahead can the pumpkin pie be made?

For home cooks, the mechanics of Thanksgiving Day can be overwhelming. To help us sort it all out, the Food Network is offering up its experts for a two-hour question-and-answer special, called Thanksgiving Live! It airs Nov. 20 from noon to 2 p.m. EST on the Food Network.

Alton Brown will host the live show, fielding viewers' questions to Food Network co-stars Ted Allen, Sunny Anderson, Anne Burrell, Melissa d'Arabian, Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli and Rachael Ray.

So, here's your chance to be on the Food Network. Do you have a really good question? Alton will Skype with some viewers during the show, and you can apply to video chat with him.

Meanwhile, the Food Network is taking questions beforehand on its site, Twitter and Facebook, but also in real time during Thanksgiving Live.

We chatted with Guarnaschelli, who hosts Alex's Day Off on the Food Network and is executive chef of Butter, a restaurant in New York City.

SheKnows: People have already asked more than 1,600 questions online. What do you think the biggest worry is for home cooks on Thanksgiving?

Guarnaschelli: It's a confidence thing more than anything. I think people need to be reminded again and again each year how they organize and cook their Thanksgiving dinner. It's a dinner you make once a year. It has its traditions, and I think people just need a reminder that they have the confidence and the ability to put it all together.

SheKnows: What's your favorite technique for roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving?

Guarnaschelli: I start by putting it in the fridge and letting it develop a crust overnight. In other words, leave it uncovered, so that it can get that good skin on it. Then, I like to soak a little bit of cheese cloth in melted butter, and start the process of roasting the turkey with the white meat (the breast meat) covered in butter-soaked cheesecloth. It's got a little bit of an auto-baste built into it from the buttery cheesecloth. I remove that later.

SheKnows: Do you add any herbs to the turkey?

Guarnaschelli: I'm not a fan of all that honestly. I really love the straightforward turkey. I like turkey to taste like turkey. Any flavors that I want, I simply put them in my stuffing.

SheKnows: What do you recommend people bring to a potluck style dinner, especially if the host doesn't give much direction?

Guarnaschelli: My number one choice is a pie, but I also (suggest) bringing a tray full of biscuits and baking them off when you get there. That can be a really great thing to bring, and more unusual. I also think your version of cranberry sauce (is another good option) because cranberry sauce is different for every family.

SheKnows: What do you put in your cranberry sauce?

Guarnaschelli: I make a cranberry sauce with cranberries cooked together with star anise, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, a little bit of orange peel and a little bit of apple cider.

SheKnows: What's the best way to carve a turkey?

Guarnaschelli: I like using a pair of scissors to break it down. I think that can be easier. You can cut away the wings and the legs pretty easily (with scissors) and then cut straight down the breastbone. Carve the white meat away from the bone, and then slice it, instead of chipping away at this huge, overwhelming turkey.

More Thanksgiving ideas

Behind the scenes of Butterball's turkey hotline
Thanksgiving treats that are almost too cute to eat
Classic pumpkin pie with maple whipped cream

Photo credit: Food Network